If Jamaine Jones' scorching touch on the training track is any indication there is plenty of reason to get excited about the AFL season ahead.
The Portland export - plucked out of the Hampden league in the 2016 rookie draft - is striving hard to be selected for West Coast's round one side, with the 23-year-old impressing through practice matches as he enters his third season out west.
"I'm definitely more confident in myself, the club has confidence in me so I'm trying to take that extra step this season," he told The Standard.
"I feel more comfortable with where my game is going to go and I think that's because of the work I've done on and off the field this pre-season on my body.
"My body has held up really well this pre-season, I've tried to do everything right - I had hernia surgery late last year so for me it's been about getting my body right, especially with recovery.
"It makes a big difference being as fit as I've ever been."
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The former Greater Western Victoria Rebels player said he'd worked hard this pre-season to cover the ground more efficiently and impact through the midfield.
"Naturally in a game sense I'm a good runner but I've been working on my repeated efforts, getting up the ground and getting back," he said.
"If I do go in the midfield it's just stoppage after stoppage so working on repeat efforts is the big one and I feel like I've taken a big step."
He added that cementing a permanent spot in the West Coast midfield was his desire.
"I feel like (playing as a midfielder) it's going to lead that way and that's the way I want it to go," he said.
"I'm working and striving towards it - I'm a contest player and love getting the hard ball, so hopefully it goes that way."
Originally drafted to Geelong but delisted after the 2019 season with seven matches, it took time for the fleet footed youngster to find his groove after landing at West Coast in the 2020 supplementary selection period but in his second season at the Eagles in 2021 he managed to show glimpses throughout his 15 matches.
Impressively the gifted youngster kicked two goals and collected 21 disposals against Fremantle in his most complete performance in round seven.
"I feel like I found some great form late last season and took another step," he said.
"But I want to impact more with goals, possessions and whatnot, but I feel like I'll be a lot better than this year."
He said working hard and learning throughout his AFL journey so far - including dealing with adversity such as being delisted - had matured him.
"It does take a while to feel settled, it's taken me six years almost to finally figure out what works for me," he said.
"It was hard to get a game at Geelong when you're playing alongside some legends like Gary Ablett, but even when I was there learning from them was great.
"I felt like I was stiff to be let go by Geelong but another door opened and you've got to take that opportunity.
"I think the biggest thing was the move over, it matured me a bit more. I didn't have any family or anything, so as the years go on you learn more, and you're still learning but I feel like the move over was crucial in finding those better habits than when I was at Geelong.
"It's working for me. I love Perth, you can't get sick of it being sunny and not raining in Heywood every single day."
The Eagles have been ravaged with injury over the off-season, with stars Elliot Yeo (calf), and Luke Shuey (hamstring), as well as Oscar Allen (foot), Dom Sheed (syndesmosis), Jamie Cripps (pectoral) and Tom Cole (ankle) not likely to be available for the opening round clash against Gold Coast on March 20.
Gun forward Jack Darling is also expected to be a notable round one absentee after failing to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
But it's not all doom and gloom, according to Jones.
"We've been hit with a lot of injuries in the last few weeks which hasn't been great for us," he said.
"It's a big opportunity for the younger lads to get a sniff and to bleed them into the AFL which is a good sign for them. COVID's about to hit us massively over here, so if I was a WAFL guy or in the VFL at Geelong or wherever I'd be licking my lips to get a game.
"But for younger guys you just have to be ready at any time - you get to bleed some of your young guys and see what it's like. I'm excited for it."
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